Akani Simbine

Athlete Profile

  • COUNTRY
    South Africa South Africa
  • DATE OF BIRTH
    21 SEP 1993

Personal Best - Outdoor

Performance Wind Place Date
100 Metres 9.89 +1.9 Székesfehérvár (Sóstói Stadion) 18 JUL 2016
200 Metres 19.95 +1.7 Pretoria (Tuks) 04 MAR 2017

Progression - Outdoor

100 Metres

Performance Wind Place Date
2017 9.92 +1.2 Pretoria (Tuks) 18 MAR
2016 9.89 +1.9 Székesfehérvár (Sóstói Stadion) 18 JUL
2015 9.97 0.0 Gwangju 09 JUL
2014 10.02 +1.4 Pretoria (ABSA) 12 APR
2013 10.36 +0.4 Kazan 07 JUL
2012 10.19 +1.3 Lusaka 11 DEC
2010 10.61 -0.1 Germiston 13 MAR

200 Metres

Performance Wind Place Date
2017 19.95 +1.7 Pretoria (Tuks) 04 MAR
2016 20.16 +0.7 Székesfehérvár (Sóstói Stadion) 18 JUL
2015 20.23 -0.4 Beijing (National Stadium) 25 AUG
2014 20.37 +0.5 Glasgow (Hampden Park) 31 JUL
2013 20.79 +0.7 Pretoria 09 MAR
2012 20.68 -1.9 Lusaka 12 DEC

Honours - 100 Metres

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF World Championships London 2017 5 10.01 -0.8 London (Olympic Stadium) 05 AUG 2017
The XXXI Olympic Games 5 9.94 +0.2 Rio de Janeiro (Estádio Olímpico) 14 AUG 2016
15th IAAF World Championships 4sf2 10.02 +0.9 Beijing (National Stadium) 23 AUG 2015
14th IAAF World Championships 7h3 10.38 -0.3 Moskva (Luzhniki) 10 AUG 2013

Honours - 200 Metres

Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF World Championships London 2017 7sf1 20.62 +2.1 London (Olympic Stadium) 09 AUG 2017
15th IAAF World Championships 6sf1 20.37 +0.4 Beijing (National Stadium) 26 AUG 2015

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Compiled 23 July 2016

  

Akani SIMBINE South Africa (100m, 200m)

Born: September 21, 1993, Kempton Park, Gauteng

1.76m/74kg

Coach: Werner Prinsloo

Manager: Peet van Zyl

 

After a breakthrough 2016 year, Akani Simbine confirmed his talent with another stellar season, and makes no secret of the fact he is aiming for medals at the World Championships in London 

 

Long before he stormed to his 9.89sec personal best in 2016, or finished fifth at the Olympic final later that year, Simbine had displayed his true potential to the world at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

 

It wasn’t his fifth place in the 200m, but rather his performance in the 4x100m relay, anchoring South Africa to fourth place in a national record of 38.35sec.

 

Simbine displayed impressive speed as he made ground - or widened the gap - on every other anchor with the sole exception of Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt.

 

The relay is the closest to team sport that Simbine will get to. At school he chose athletics because he knew he could control his own destiny, unlike in team sports like football, where players are dependent on selectors.

 

“I was one of the young kids in the senior team in the Castle League (regional league). I always had my speed and I also played for my school team. The head of sports for my school team told me that I should try athletics and take it seriously because athletics could get me somewhere more than soccer, because soccer had a lot of politics and you had to know people to get into teams and in athletics you just have to run.

 

“He got me a coach but it was too far for me to travel all the way there and my parents said that wouldn't work. The day after that my father found an article in the newspaper about a coach inKempton Park, at Barnard Stadium, who was looking for athletes and he is a sprint coach.”

 

That coach was Werner Prinsloo, and Simbine has been training with him ever since, though the start was not easy.

 

“I went and ran some 60m... It was tough and I didn't want to go back but I decided to push it and started running at meets and started doing really well. I was running and still playing soccer and my parents were like 'You can't do both', I was enjoying soccer and athletics but I decided to swing more on the athletics side and things really started going well for me.”

 

At the end of 2012, at the Zone VI U20 Games in Lusaka, Simbine took both sprint crowns and set a national junior record in the 100m.

 

“That was when I decided for athletics,” he recalls. “I ran 10.19 and then I met with Peet (van Zyl, his manager) and he started telling me I could do something really big in athletics, and from there I started building on that and started taking training really seriously.”

 

Simbine went almost unnoticed at his first major international competition, at the 2013 World University Games in Kazan, where he was eliminated in the semi-finals and was overshadowed by compatriot Anaso Jobodwana, who took the 100m and 200m double.

 

At the 2013 World Championships in Moscow soon afterwards, he ended seventh in his 100m heat. His most memorable moment, perhaps, was the advice he got from Jamaica’s Yohan Blake. “He said I’m skinny, that I need to get stronger and bigger. I have gained muscle mass since then, so I guess I’ve taken his advice,” Simbine said soon after he smashed a 10.13sec personal best early in 2014 at the North Gauteng provincial championships.

 

That was in contrast to his 200m at the same meet, which he bungled.“I was way too tense for the 200m,” he said at the time. “If I don’t speak to people before a race I freak out. I get really nervous.”

 

His coach, Werner Prinsloo, said Simbine was known as Mr Chill in their training group.“Even If I’m chilled, I’m still shaking,” Simbine admitted. “On the blocks I’m shaking, but that goes once I start racing.”

 

Nowadays he’s better known as AK, which also refers to the AK47 Russian assault rifle.

Simbine broke 10 seconds for the first time in his career when he clocked 9.99sec in Velenje on July 1 2015, and followed that up with a 9.97 on 9 July to win the 2015 World University Games crown in Gwangju. That time equalled the South African record set just four days earlier by his then-housemate, Henricho Bruintjies, and the win was a big boost for Simbine’s budding career.

“Winning that was one of my biggest accomplishments, because I had never won a world title in anything and for me that was the first time I could say I was a world champion. Even if I was a world student champion, I was still a champion and that gave me the confidence I needed and showed me I could actually compete with the bigger names in the sport.”

 

But he’s taken sole ownership of the South African record since then, amassing a total of 15 sub-10 runs.

 Simbine has been trying to improve his start — the weakest part of his race — and he still received useful tips from Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, during a brief training camp in Jamaica in June, 2016.

 

And then came his next breakthrough, clocking 9.89 as he beat Jamaican veteran Asafa Powell, American Mike Rodgers and evergreen Kim Collins in Hungary in mid-July of that yar. “I was just shocked at the fact that I was first, I had beaten Powell. And then the time came out — 9.89 and I was like okay, this is shocking, this is great and it’s amazing. I was very happy and I was very shocked. I couldn’t believe it, but then at the same time I was happy.”

 

Mills had noticed he was not using his hamstrings enough at the start of his race. “He feels if I start using them then I will be able to put enough acceleration and power into the running,” Simbine said on his return from the camp.

 

“I never knew that I wasn’t using my hamstrings when I was running and just that little bit of information changes quite a lot because if I can actually activate my hamstrings more when I’m starting it means I can apply more power and speed.”

 

For much of his career, Simbine as depended heavily on his top-end speed. “Most times it’s always I go and everybody leaves me and then I just pull everybody back. “Imagine if I could start with them!”

 

After his 9.89, even Simbine was imagining he can challenge for a medal in Rio.

 

Akani Simbine has known for a while exactly what he wants at the IAAF World Championships in London — a podium finish, preferably two.

 

After missing a top-three place in the 100m at the 2016 Rio Olympics by just three-hundredths of a second — that’s faster than people blink — Simbine knows it’s time to start bagging medals.

 

There was also the 200m race in Brazil, for which he was controversially not selected, where he arguably would have a great shot at bronze or silver. He made his point at his first competition of the 2017 season. He went 9.93 in the 100m and two hours later hit 19.95 for the first sub-20 200m of his career.

 

In 2016 Simbine started out with a 9.96, then a South African record, and this year he was faster in his opener. In 2016, he went on to peak at his 9.89 national record, but in 2017 he has yet to reach the summit, having said he wants to do it in London.

 

He improved his season’s best to 9.92 a couple of weeks later and insisted there was still plenty in reserve for the rest of the season. “For me I don’t think of me running fast now as peaking too early. “We haven’t done most of the training that we need to do. We haven’t got into our 150m‚ 250m sessions and I feel those are the sessions that make me run faster.”

 

Simbine went 9.94 and 9.95 in the semi-finals and final of the South African Championships to reclaim the 100m crown he’d lost the previous year.

 

Next came the Diamond League meet in Doha, where went 9.99 to beat Olympic silver and bronze medallists Justin Gatlin and Andre De Grasse. What made Simbine’s performance all the more impressive there, is that he was ill shortly before racing, struggling with a stomach bug.

 

That gave him huge confidence, he said, because the 100m was a mental game. "No matter who’s on the track ... I will go saying ‘no‚ I want to beat these guys’. "Now, I actually have the confidence‚ not just the words,” he said at the time, adding he wanted silverware in London. "I want to continue with that. I also want to improve on the 200m and go to world champs … and just come back with a medal.”

 

Since then, however, he has had to settle for second or third.

 

But perhaps it’s a just a matter of time, because Simbine packs plenty of power on the track.

 

Personal Bests

100m — 9.89 NR (2016)

200m — 19.95A (2017)

 

Yearly Progression

100m: 2010 — 10.61A, 2011— 10.57A, 2012 — 10.19 NJR, 2013 — 10.36, 2014 — 10.02A, 2015 — 9.97 =NR, 2016 — 9.89 NR, 2017 — 9.92A

200m: 2011 — 21.27A, 2012 — 20.68A, 2013 — 20.79A, 2014 — 20.37, 2015 — 20.23, 2016 — 20.16, 2017 — 19.95A

 

Career Highlights

2010    5th        South African Youth Championships (200m)                         21.91

2011    3rd        South African Junior Championships, Germinston (100m)   10.71A

2011    6th        South African Junior Championships, Germinston (200m)   21.94A

2012    2nd       South African Junior Championships, Germiston (100m)     10.43A

2012    3rd        South African Junior Championships, Germiston (200m)     21.42  

2012    7th        South African Championships, Port Elizabeth (100m)          10.69              

2012    1st        Zone VI U20 Games, Lusaka (100m)                                  10.19

2012    1st        Zone VI U20 Games, Lusaka (200m)                                   20.68

2013    2nd       South African U23 Championships, Pretoria (100m)             10.48A

2013    1st        South African U23 Championships, Pretoria (200m)             20.84A

2013    3rd        South African Championships, Stellenbosch (100m)            10.63

2013    3rd        South African Championships, Stellenbosch (200m)            20.90

2013    7h3      World Championships, Moscow (100m)                                10.38

2014    2nd       South African Championships, Pretoria (100m)                    10.02  

2014    4sf3     Commonwealth Games, Glasgow (100m)                              10.21

2014    5th       Commonwealth Games, Glasgow (200m)                              20.37

2014    4th        Commonwealth Games, Glasgow (4x100m)                         38.35

2014    8th        African Championships, Marrakech (100m)                          13.14

2015    1st        South African Championships, Stellenbosch (100m)               10.25

2015    1st        World Student Games, Gwangju (100m)                               9.97

2015    4sf2     World Championships, Beijing (100m)                                    10.02

2015    6sf1     World Championships, Beijing (200m)                                    20.37

2016    2nd       South African Championships, Stellenbosch (100m)                10.21

2016    3rd        African Championships (100m)                                            10.05

2016    1st        African Championships (4x100m) Durban                              38.84

2016   5th         Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro (100m)                                 9.94

2016   2nd        Diamond League Final, Zürich (100m)                                   9.99

 

Prepared by David Isaacson for the IAAF Focus on Athletes project. Copyright IAAF 2016-2017

 

 

 

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